Sunday, February 27, 2011

A new premier and a new dynamic in British Columbia

A big win last night on the left coast for Christy Clark, who scored a third-ballot victory in the BC Liberal Party race over Kevin Falcon and managed to get her victory speech in before the Canucks game started. Unfortunately the Canucks would fall to the Boston Bruins, but otherwise a pretty good night for British Columbia.

It was interesting watching the evening unfold from afar, as the media tried to figure out how to cover a (weighted) one member, one vote non-convention as opposed to the old-style made for tv delegated drama. The members voted across the province throughout the day Saturday online and on the phone with a single preferential ballot. More democratic than a delegated convention, but less for the media to do.

The party did try to squeeze what drama it could out of the system. Rather than just announce the winner straight-out, it announced the results of each ballot in 10-minute increments. Surprising the final result didn't leak to Twitter early. I thought it was a little surprising George Abbott didn't do better on the first ballot, but him and Kevin Falcon were fishing in the same pool. Not surprised Clark wasn't higher on the first ballot, everyone was trying to spin-up her numbers as part of the expectations game. What was surprising was that the rumours of Clark's lack of second-choice support were shown false. There was no anybody but Christy movement; Clark gained steadily as Mike DeJong and Abbott fell off the ballot.

As a BCer at heart, I'm optimistic about Clark's victory.When I was still living in BC I let my BC Liberal membership lapse, disappointed that the Liberal/Conservative coalition (out there it's not a dirty word) had tilted much too right for my liking as the Campbell government went on. I'm hopeful that Clark can move the party and the government back toward the progressive centre. Time will tell, of course, but I'm hopeful.

The challenge, of course, will be holding that coalition together. Clark is seen by many as a "Liberal" candidate, viewed with wariness by some on the "Conservative" side of the party. There were abandon the party warnings by some if she won, and the upstart BC Conservative Party is waiting in the wings. I suspect many of the warnings were just electioneering, but the BC Conservative leadership race will be worth watching.

The other challenge for Clark will be uniting a caucus that, with one exception, supported other people. This, I think, will be less of a challenge than it has been hyped to be. It's one team now, and with the NDP soon to have a new leader, everyone knows where the focus should be.

Oh, and of course, Clark needs to find a riding to run in and get herself into the legislature.

So we'll now watch to see how Clark builds her cabinet and begins governing, while the NDP (and the BC Conservatives) continue their leadership races. Once we know all the players, and get a sense of how Clark will be governing (and how the HST referendum goes) we'll have a better sense of what the future holds. But always interesting times on the left coast.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

look no further than Gordon Campbell who will leave his Point Grey riding open for Christy to be elected in a By-election.